I was raised in a small town in northern Alberta called Grande Prairie. When I was 18, I couldn’t wait to move away. I wanted to go to the big city of Calgary (8 hours south), get a college education and live the big city life. I put myself through school by working in a pub, and earned an Applied Bachelors Degree in Communications, with a major in Public Relations and a minor in French from Mount Royal University.
When I graduated in 2009, I finally quit my serving job and worked full-time in Public Relations for a transmission company. I rented a cute apartment by myself downtown and was dating a fun, nice, guy. Life was good.
Then one day, after living in Calgary for a total of seven years, I woke up with an urge in my heart to move back to my hometown. I can’t explain it. I don’t really know why it happened.
Grande Prairie is a small city, with a lot of field jobs in oil and gas and agricultural opportunities. There are not very many Public Relations jobs. Somehow, the same week I decided I wanted to move home, there was a Public Relations position with our provincial health care organization accepting applications. I applied, and after three rounds of interviews, I was offered the job.
My fun, nice boyfriend moved to Grande Prairie with me. Being raised in a small town himself, he was looking forward to it. So here I was, back from Calgary in my hometown of Grande Prairie with my city boyfriend. This was a move that at one point in my life, I swore I’d never make.
Within weeks of moving home, I could tell it was going to be a big adjustment. Aside from the overall differences in culture and lifestyle that Calgary offered, my family life was on the rocks. I quickly realized that my Dad was mentally unstable. All of my relationships, including with my mother, my boyfriend, and people who I thought were my friends, were going through transitions. I didn’t know what was happening or who I was anymore.
Soon, my nice and fun boyfriend left me. Just like that. I came home one day and he told me had found another place to live and was leaving me. I was completely blindsided and devastated.
A month later, on my birthday, my Dad was diagnosed with an aggressive non-hodgins lymphona brain tumor. He was given three months to live.
What was happening? Who was I? Regardless of everything, I was thankful to be living in Grande Prairie so I could be with my family through this.
It’s now been a year and a year and three months since my Dad’s diagnosis. Thankfully, by the grace of God, he is still with us. But within the past year and half, my life, my dreams, and who I am as a person have grown and changed immensely.
I feel more at peace with who I am now, more than I have ever felt before, and who I was born to be. I’ve finally come to terms with being born and raised in Grande Prairie, and can appreciate a lot of things about it. I am not longer ashamed and confused of my family - I know my Dad was sick for a long, long time, and that affected who he was and how he behaved.
I realize now that my nice and fun boyfriend was just that - nice and fun. But not the one, and not good for me.
I’m thankful that ten months after he left, I met someone else. One who is what my downtown Calgary self never would have thought I would date: a Grande Prairie-born and raised farmer. He lives 20 minutes out of city limits, has a dog, a cat, tractors, and listens to country music.
It was not too long ago that I was living in downtown Calgary, working for a big company, with dreams of moving to New York and now someday, I could be living on a farm outside of Grande Prairie city limits.
Is this ok? Is this what I want? I struggle with it sometimes, because I know I am changing, and am scared that one day I’ll look in the mirror and not even recognize myself.
What I do know is that my life has changed drastically, and for the better, since my move back to Grande Prairie. I live a healthier lifestyle, and for the first time in my life I have a normal relationship with my father. I still have dreams and aspirations, but they are just different now. And I think that’s ok.
Some say that people don’t ever change. But I think they do. And I think change is hard. And everyone has to look deep inside themselves, brave the new day, and trust that we are exactly where we are supposed to be in life.
Trust yourself and trust God. Life is good. Be thankful, and accept the fact that your dreams can change and you will make the right decisions, no matter what.